“Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink”
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
My local railway station has introduced a new service. It has created a library where it is free to pick up a book provided you replace it with another one. As I have over 3,000 books at home and am unlikely to re-read many of them, this provides me with a great opportunity to find interesting books at no cost. I found one book that appeared most interesting called ‘You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty!’ written by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. His thesis is that water plays a crucial role in many conditions and ailments:
Heart disease and stroke - water is essential to help prevent clogging of arteries and heart and brain.
Infection - water may increase the efficiency of the immune system to combat infections and cancer cells.
Depression - water helps the body naturally replenish its supply of the neurotransmitter serotonin.
Sleep disorders - water is needed for the production of nature’s sleep regulator, melatonin.
Lack of energy - water generates electrical and magnetic energy in every body cell, providing a natural power boost.
Addiction - water can help eliminate addictive urges for caffeine, alcohol, and some drugs.
Osteoporosis - water is an aid to strong bone formation.
Leukaemia and Lymphoma - water normalises the blood-manufacturing systems that can aid in the prevention of many forms of cancer.
Attention deficit - a well-hydrated brain is continually energised to imprint new information in its memory banks.
The book was published in 2003 with some of the material originally appearing in ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’ by the same author which was first published in 1992 and updated in 1995. The author states that the book is not intended as a substitute for medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in all matters relating to his or her health, and particularly in respect of any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. But despite this disclaimer the book makes extremely strong claims, not least that it is based on more than 20 years clinical and scientific research into the role of water in the body. He argues that simply adjusting your fluid and salt intakes can help you treat and prevent dozens of diseases, avoid costly prescription drugs, and enjoy vibrant new health.
He further argues that treating a dry mouth as a signal of thirst is a bad mistake and it is really a signal of chronic dehydration in the body. He recommends substantial intakes of water and salt every day to stay healthy and other beverages, including tea, coffee, and sodas, cannot be substitutes for water. He says that you can naturally lessen, even eliminate, symptoms of asthma and allergies just by having the right intake of water and salt. You can even prevent life-threatening diseases such as heart failure, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and cancer again by taking the right intake of water and salt. Hypertension may be treated naturally, without diuretics or medication and water is the key to losing weight without dieting.
Not surprisingly, by taking such a radical view, the author has had an ongoing battle with the medical establishment but nevertheless has stuck to his basic argument for many years. His thesis is that the body shows that it is dehydrated in many different ways which has given the mainstream medical establishment licence to treat these manifestations of dehydration with bizarre and unnecessary protocols. Some of these conditions include:
Raised low-density cholesterol in the blood circulation
Cholesterol plaque formation in the arteries
Lou Gehrig’s disease
He claims that he has discovered for the first time in the history of modern science-based medicine that the way to prevent and cure degenerative diseases of the human body is simply and naturally with water.
I read the book, which goes into far more detail than I can summarise in this short blog, with great interest and generally a feeling of confidence. As I always do, I discussed it with my wife. When I told her that according to this author water reduces the incidence of morning sickness in pregnancy, she simply told me that was rubbish. That was my first inkling of doubt and that’s when I decided to look into this author’s credentials.
The first thing I learned that this man, who seemed to have discovered practically the secret of eternal life, died in the year following the publication of the book at the age of 73 or 74 of complications with pneumonia. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj was born in Iran in 1930 or 1931. He attended secondary school at Fettes College in Scotland and later graduated from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School of London University. He practiced medicine in the United Kingdom before returning to Iran. In 1979 after the Iranian revolution, he was sent to Evin prison. In the book he claims that during his period in prison he was able to cure many of the prisoners from various diseases through his belief in the power of water and salt. He also claims in the book that they decided to release him, and he asked if he could stay in prison to continue his studies. He was finally released in 1982 when he moved to the United States.
His ideas about water curing diseases have been criticised as quackery by medical experts and in particular he drew criticism for his HIV/AIDS denialism. It appears that experts who work on the National Council Against Health Fraud have been unable to find any documented peer-reviewed research and also are sure that he has exaggerated claims about the number of patients that he has treated successfully. It also turns out that he was not registered as a physician but was licensed as a naturopath. Although he claims the title of M.D. on the cover of the book he does not appear to have been a qualified Doctor of Medicine.
The book is published by Grand Central Life & Style, part of the Hachette book group. One has to question what research they did into this man’s credentials. This has certainly been a traumatic experience and I will take more care about the books I pick up in my railway station. But I did drink two glasses of water while writing this blog.